Earlier this month I sat with my grandma in my car at the gas station after spending a wonderful afternoon together getting pampered at the hair salon and filling our bellies with sushi. We were doing what we normally do – reminiscing and talking about days past – when we stumbled upon a fun and startling revelation that bridged my personal life with my professional. It turns out, the International Institute of New England, with which I had recently started working with as a new member of the Providers’ Council, was where my own grandparents met as young people fleeing Europe for a new life post-World War II!
The International Institute has served tens of thousands of refugees and immigrants in the greater Boston, Lowell and Manchester, NH, regions for over a century. They provide new Americans with English language learning and skills trainings, employment services and citizenship programs. Their impressive dedication to create thriving, self-sufficient refugees and immigrants through resettlement, stabilization and integration programming has helped so many people in our community.
I am a living testament to that.
My grandparents came from two different worlds and were two incredibly different people. My late grandfather, Ilie Baedita, a refugee from Romania, was always patient, calm and extremely kind. My grandmother, then Gerlinde Urban, was a German immigrant whose headstrong nature and intelligent wit make her a force. After arriving in America, my grandfather went to IINE to take English language courses. My grandmother was then living with two Polish immigrants who were also taking classes at the International Institute and invited her to join them one afternoon. Though he didn’t know much English, he learned German during the war which helped him meet my grandmother, one of the other German speakers in the room. And there they fell in love.
Fast forward about 75 years to 2020. I met with the International Institute’s management team in late January to welcome them as a new Council member. Neither of my grandparents spoke much about the war throughout their lives. It wasn’t until they were in their older years that they started to reminisce. Together my mother and I have been piecing together the history of their youths, stories from the war and coming to America. You can imagine my surprise in connecting my work at the Council to the history of my family.
It’s one thing to believe your work is important; it’s an entirely new feeling realizing how impactful it is to your own life. I am thrilled to have made that connection and proud to support the work of the International Institute – almost as proud as I am to be the grandchild of two amazing, inspiring people like my grandparents.
— Christina Broughton, Providers’ Council Manager of Member Engagement
I would like to dedicate this article to my late grandfather, Ilie Baedita, who passed four years ago after 93 after years of gardening, travelling and doting upon his beloved family.Back to All News